Rhea Litre is among a very select number of drag queens who have not yet appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race but who is still a “name” queen that works all over the country. In addition, Rhea is friends with pretty much every famous drag queen I’ve ever heard of. She credits her notoriety to her 2012 recording of “Let’s Have a KaiKai” with Willam Belli. “It’s the song that changed my life,” she said.
[quote]Some people send in that Drag Race application and then they just sit at home and wait. You have to make things happen for yourself. And you can be a working drag queen without having been on Drag Race. You just have to get out there.”[/quote]
While it’s true that the song is catchy and having William’s name and talent attached doesn’t hurt her rep, Rhea should also thank herself. To me Rhea, who has a background in PR, is the social media queen of the drag world. She appears at least two or three times a day in my various social media feeds. She posts often, but not so often that it becomes annoying. I follow a lot of queens – it’s part of the job here. One thing that makes Rhea unique and endearing is that she shows up as often in other people’s posts as she does in her own. She promotes her own gigs but she also throws love and support to her friends and fans – and they back to her.
The Los Angeles-based Rhea recently returned from a week-long trip to New York during NYC Pride. “I worked the whole time,” she said. It turns out Rhea and I were at the same Logo Pride event in New York. How did I find out? Not by rubbing shoulders in a VIP area! No, I saw her Instagram picture she posted with Courtney Act from backstage! Connected, right? It’s not just a show biz friendship though. Rhea calls Courtney “the main driving uplifting force in my life” and says she loves her “sister.”
Rhea got her start in drag ten years ago when she saw Raven perform a ballad. A few years before that Rhea had auditioned for Season Two of ‘American Idol.’ She made it to the top 60 contestants and then was cut. “There were two rooms – one where everyone stayed, and one where everyone went home. I was in the room where we got sent home,” she explained. “Some people were really bummed because they had to go back to places like Utah.” Rhea already lived in L.A. so she just took a short ride home and got on with her life, but not performing – at least for a while.
Rhea found Raven’s drag performance so moving that it inspired her to get back into performing and into drag herself. With typical high aspirations, Rhea sought out the most fierce drag mama she could find – Mayhem Miller. With her characteristic fortitude, and flat out boldness, Rhea made the trek to Mayhem’s performances three weeks in a row, each time asking Mayhem to be her drag mother. The first two she was turned down but she kept coming back. Finally Mayhem, no doubt recognizing Rhea’s determination and fierceness, accepted her under her wing.
“The first time I got into drag I had to perform,” Rhea explained. “There was this amateur competition. I had to enter and I won the whole fucking thing.” It was at that same competition that she gained, yes, her second drag mother – none other than fierce fashion queen Raja, who would later go on to win Drag Race season three. Raja thought Rhea’s newbie drag shoes made her look like a booger. “He said ‘Girl you are a runway model. You can’t go out there in those shoes.'” Raja took off her own shoes and lent them to Rhea, and another drag birth was complete.
A few years later Rhea took her high profile networking even farther when she became a member of the legendary drag band Transkuntinental. Rhea says there was originally a revolving door cast of performers in the band but they eventually settled on five regulars: Willam, Detox, Vicky Vox, Kelly Mantle and Rhea. It was through her TransK association with Willam that Rhea felt confident enough to approach her about recording “Let’s Have a KaiKai” together. Rhea offers this as another example of making things happen in her career. “I didn’t have to write that song and I didn’t have to ask Willam.” But she did and Willam added her own flavor of crazy cleverness and the mix worked. To date the video has received almost 1.4 million views on You Tube and Rhea is at least, if not more, well-known as many Ru girls out there.
Rhea was recently selected by Dragaholic staff as a strong contender for RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 7. Rhea says she can’t comment on the casting process but through my clever questioning I could see she was definitely familiar with all of the steps involved in casting a Ru girl. It’s not clear whether she knows this from personal experience or by word of mouth from friends who have already been on the show. We shall have to wait until the Season 7 cast is announced to know for sure.
Rhea definitely recognizes the value of a Drag Race credit on her resume:
[quote]”Drag Race is an amazing platform for those that consider drag an art form and are serious about making a career out of it. I love drag, the windows that it has opened, and how Ru has changed the world. Being on Drag Race would be a dream come true! I will say that I will keep reaching for the stars whether I am on the show or not.
“Before I did drag I had a great job as the account manager at a PR Firm for amazing entertainers like, Blue Man Group, Lea Salonga, The Ten Tenors, David Copperfield and more. I loved my job, and I was pretty good at it. I had the best mentor in the world, Phil Lobel who really taught me work ethic and how to raise the bar. I suppose if I didn’t leave my job to pursue Drag Entertainment, I would be a publicist.
“I think every drag performer has their own “it” factor. I think of myself as pretty well-rounded when it comes to entertainment, especially since my background is in PR. I am familiar with many aspects of entertainment, like being able to both manage and being the entertainer.”[/quote]
Rhea can definitely handle her own P.R. but would love to take on a professional manager to look after the little details. “Sometimes I get so busy I forget to go buy eyelashes,” she said.
Rhea said on Drag Race they cast “beginners, intermediates and ‘fierce fucking queens.’ We certainly hope to see this fierce fucking queen – with mad hashtagging skills – on Season 7!
Check out all of Rhea’s upcoming appearances and connect with Rhea on Social Media:
Watch: Rhea Litre and Willam Belli in “Let’s Have a KaiKai”
Purchase “Let’s Have a KaiKai” on iTunes.